OLEAN, NY – For folks whose mouths water at the thought of shrimp cocktail, steamed clams and other seafood delicacies, the ReHabilitation Center’s 14th annual Seafood Fest will provide all of that.
And it supports a good cause: The ReHabilitation Center, which has been providing residential and day services to about 1,100 people with developmental disabilities and behavioral health issues in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties for 60 years.
The March 24 event will begin at 6 p.m. at the Old Library, 116 S. Union St.
“It’s probably the most historic and premier place in Olean to hold that kind of event – the ReHabilitation Center being such a vital part of are Olean area and the heritage of the library itself is kind of a natural thing,” noted Joe Marra, who owns the Old Library with his wife Susan.
Elena Bombardier, the director of development for the ReHabilitation Center, said that most of the food served is provided by the Old Library and by US Foods, entities that “partner and collaborate with us on the event.”
Bombardier credited the Old Library with doing much to make sure the event is successful, including donating a considerable portion of the expenses in running the event. “It varies year after year, but it is significant amount,” she said.
Marra added, “We donate our time and decorations at no cost to set up the event. Usually we charge for that when it comes to planning events but not for this.”
Bombardier mentioned that the creativity the Old Library staff put into the event is “huge.” For instance, Marra fills the place with palm trees and seashells to fit the event’s theme.
“It takes me three days to decorate the place with fish nets, lobster trays and captain hats. We set up everything to give it a seafood and seashore type of theme,” Marra said.
The featured dishes will include shrimp cocktail, snow crab rangoon, shrimp scampi, steamed clams and honey hoisin salmon. Among the non-seafood items are beef tenderloin carved to order and chicken monterey.
Catering to attendees’ food preferences, Seafood Fest also offers a live auction of item such as a 3-to-4-pound live lobster, porterhouse steaks, lobster tails, and Alaskan King crab legs,” Bombardier said.
“Stuff like the live lobsters are auctioned off live or raw, then sent quickly back to the kitchen and prepared in time to set up the meal for the auction winners the same time everyone else is eating,” Marra explained.
He added, “Whoever wins it can do whatever they want with it, but usually it is taken to the table and it is shared by everyone at the table.”
Professional auctioneer Dan Carter, who is part owner of Carter Auctions and Events Center in Allegany, has been part of the fest for the past couple of years.
“Carter is very well-known in the community he has been doing this for years,” Bombardier said. “He is also a part of our Seafood Fest committee, so he is pretty involved in the event.”
Bombardier attributed the success of the annual event to the constant support from the community and local businesses.
“We can’t thank them enough. We have had attendees say they wait all year for the event, and they never miss it, which we love to hear.” she said.
Sponsorships range from $325 to $1,350 and are being accepted until March 1. Some of the corporate sponsors already confirmed include Univera Healthcare, Kinley Corporation and Good Times of Olean.